Mick McCarthy has just been announced as manager of Ipswich Town. In the great big footballing world, this is a fairly minor event. Ipswich were a First Division (thats what they used to call the Premier League kids!) mainstay throughout the 1970s up until 1986. They have only had one season in the Premier League in 2000/01 and as such are not regarded as even a big Championship side.
Mick McCarthy seems to be regarded by a lot of pundits and fans as a fairly average manager, but to my mind, Ipswich have done very well to get someone of his calibre. In McCarthy’s first management post, he took unfancied and unloved (with good reason) Millwall into the Championship playoffs. This got him the job managing Ireland where he achieved the unique trick of winning games and actually playing well at the same time. Sadly, he is best remembered for his fallout with Roy Keane on the eve of the tournament, but they reached the second round and went out to Spain on penalties.
He has subsequently gotten Sunderland and Wolves promoted into the Premier League. He oversaw Sunderland getting relegated again, but he had less money to spend than any Premier League side before or since. It’s also worth noting that when he was sacked at Wolves, they were out of the relegation zone, but his replacement: Terry Connor guided Wolves right back into the Championship dumper.
Ipswich are currently fighting a relegation battle in the Championship. However, they have a decent squad, including DJ Campbell, Danny Higginbotham and Nigel Reo-Coker who all have extensive Premier League experience. They also have a wealthy owner in tax-exile Marcus Evans, who is capable of stumping up a lot of cash for the right manager. Ironically, one of Ipswich’s more recent failed managers is a certain Mr Roy Keane.
Quite a few clubs with ambitions possibly greater than Ipswich have been looking for managers: Bolton and Blackburn have recently made new appointments, and 4th place Crystal Palace are looking to replace Dougie Freeman. Rumour has it that Premier League sides Southampton and QPR may well be looking for a new manager before too long. McCarthy would have been an excellent choice for any of them. Look for Ipswich to be in mid-table safety by the end of the season.
Mark Cruise is a soccer writer for rantsports.com – follow him on Twitter @chiefhairyman